Business Inspo: Gaziano & Girling's Dean Girling
Gaziano & Girling is a British bespoke shoemaker brand founded in 2006 by Tony Gaziano and Dean Girling. Both of the founders have had years of experience in this field, having worked for a handful of bespoke makers and manufacturers. Coming together, they wanted to create something different; their aim was to develop fresh designs of unrivalled quality to suit the tastes of both young and older men. They're even launching a ladies collection in April!
With this September marking their brand's 10th anniversary, we spoke with Co-Founder Dean Girling to find out just what it takes to survive as a newcomer brand in the traditional world of bespoke shoemaking.
Rhea: Please tell us a bit about the growth of G&G since you founded it with Tony in 2006. Is today's G&G what you envisioned 10 years ago?
Dean: The brand has grown very nicely over the last 10 years, with the pinnacle coming in April 2013 when we opened our own flagship store on Savile Row.
R: What sets G&G apart from other shoemaking brands like Cleverley and John Lobb?
D: You mention two names in particular, there are many fine shoe makers out there. What sets us apart is, firstly, our quality. I believe we are making some of the finest shoes to come out of England today. Our styling and design of our shoes, the last shape, the fiddle back bevel waist, which was only really being done on Bespoke shoes before we introduced it back in 2006 to our RTW collection.
R: What motivated you to take the plunge with starting your own brand in such a traditional industry? Was there any backlash/criticism from other shoemakers at that time?
D: We really wanted to bring a Ready to Wear shoe to the market place that had a very bespoke aesthetic, a really refined Ready to Wear shoe, which wasn’t being made in Northamptonshire. There was no backlash, but people in the industry thought we were mad trying to set up a shoe factory when the whole of the industry had been in decline for years and all the old factories had closed back in the 60s, 70s & 80s. We were the first shoe factory to be set up in England/Northamptonshire for over 100 years.
R: How did you grow and retain your customer base?
D: The business grew organically simply from customers loving the styles and quality of shoes we were producing, they kept coming back for more.
R: How do you attract new customers today?
D: Adding new styles/last shapes, colour combinations to the collection.
R: Do you still make shoes?
D: Yes, although not as many as I would like to. As the business has grown I find myself drawn into the role of managing the factory, the store and staff.
R: What's your role?
D: My role is mainly involved with the production of the RTW these days.
R: And Tony's role?
D: New design and patterns.
R: How do you keep your designs contemporary and relevant?
D: I would like to think we make timeless classics, but add a contemporary twist to some classic styles.
R: Do customers usually prefer traditional classic styles or modern ones?
D: This one is difficult, I would say these days we tend to make more of the contemporary styles, over the really traditional ones.
R: What's your plan for G&G in the next 10 years?
D: The plan is to grow the business to a wider audience and open more Gaziano & Girling retail stores.
Find out more at https://www.gazianogirling.com/.